By Diane Kortus
LAND O’ LAKES — Vipul Patel wanted his new Land O’ Lakes pharmacy to have a name that was meaningful and memorable. And so he chose Aum, the chant used in Yoga to deepen thought and sharpen focus.
“Aum gives you mental peace, and I wanted to bring that to my patients,” said Patel. “It is part of my culture and is meaningful to me.”
The word aum, which rhymes with home, expresses the ultimate reality. It is a universal word used by many religions — aum among Hindu and Buddhist, amin among Moslems, and amen among Christians.
Patel came to the U.S. from India at age 18 to attend college and graduated with a master’s degree in pharmacology from Long Island University in 2002. The youngest of five children, he was the first to study in the U.S.
He moved to Florida shortly after graduating and was hired by Eckerd’s Pharmacy, which later became CVS Pharmacy. Most of Patel’s seven years working for the national chains were at their Land O’ Lakes and Wesley Chapel stores.
As a staff pharmacist, Patel was limited to the amount of customized care he could provide his patients. He dreamed of his own store and opened Aum Pharmacy this past August in the office park in front of the Oakstead community, located off SR 54, about a mile west of US 41.
Many of Patel’s initial patients were referrals from the three doctors and two dentists also located at the Oakstead center. Since then, his patient list has grown as word spread on the personal attention he provides. There is seldom a wait, and Patel personally talks to every patient before filling his or her prescriptions.
Patel prides himself on making sure patients get the prescriptions they need at the best price. It is not unusual for him to call a doctor and recommend a generic form of a prescription that is significantly less expensive.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, the doctor will change the prescription,” said Patel. “I recently had a patient who saved $134 a week because I called his doctor and suggested an ointment instead of the cream version of an eczema medicine.”
Patel also works to find substitute medication for patients if the prescription ordered by their doctor is not covered by their health insurance plan.
“It’s not good for people to go without their medicine, and it’s not their fault if their insurance does not cover a particular medicine,” said Patel.
Seventy percent of Patel’s patients do not have insurance, which is the complete opposite of chain pharmacies, said Patel, which is why price is such a major concern. Most of Aum Pharmacy’s patients are seniors and typically spend between $500 and $1,000 a month on medication.
Aum Pharmacy offers the same seven-day supply of free antibiotics as does Publix Super Market, and also matches Wal-Mart’s $4 per month discount program for common prescriptions, but without the $10 membership fee Wal-Mart charges.
Patel lives in New Tampa with his wife, Ami, who assists her husband at the pharmacy. The couple has a 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.
Aum Pharmacy is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located at 2646 Narnia Way, Suite 101, Land O’ Lakes 34638. Phone is (813) 388-6875 and fax is (813) 388-6871. Patel can also be reached by e-mail at .
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